Monday, August 27, 2007

Guest Entry: Vlad at the US Open

Yesterday, I finally made it to Tennis Center for a full day. I got there at around 10:30am and left at about 5pm which was plenty of time to get a little sunburn and get really tired. First things first. I took LIRR to Flushing (for some reason it didn't stop at Shea Stadium) and then took subway 7 from flushing to Shea, which was just 1 stop and takes about 3 minutes. I would not recommend driving there as Shea has some construction and I am sure parking lots will be packed on Monday, so take public transportation.

First I headed to Louis Armstrong/Grandstand which is my favorite hang out place during tennis and or practice. On Armstrong Serena and Venus were practicing with Richard on the side. Well, they both looked little rusty, Serena looked sleepy as well, first 5 minutes I was watching, she was tossing the ball to serve but it was all over the place. Few minutes later we saw her first serve that landed just before the baseline. LOL. I did not see their entire practice session but what I saw was Serena serving, Venus returning and if Venus got ball back in play then they played out a point. Serena's backhand was visibly shaky (but at least she was hitting it, so that's a good sign for her after thumb injury), forehand she hit well. Her serve was kinda off. Thumb wasn't wrapped and if I had to guess, she is more or less ready to play. I took 20 or so pics of them and went to nearby Grandstand where Anna Chaks was practicing with Tati. They were hitting ball well and Tati was wearing very short pants. Another 15 minutes or so there and I ran off to practice courts. When I got there, I saw Olie Rochus at nearby P5 court hitting with Vliegen and Richie and Robby Ginepri were walking onto court P4, which is right next to it, but because of fence it wasn't easy to seem them. I couldn't really see who else was there at P1, P2 and P3, but no one looked familiar. I decided to stick around there for half hour.. took some pics and short video.

There were done in about 30 min and then Marat and Dmitry T. took their P4. My space on the bench got crowded as I was getting bumped left and right by some kids running around me trying to get better view of Marat and shirtless Dmitry. Meanwhile Olie on nearby court changed his partner and now was hitting with Gicquel. Another 20 min gone by and Olie now with Gicquel on same side of court were hitting with somebody I didn't know.

This kid sitting next to me told me that Rafa was practicing at Armstrong about an hour ago, so I decided to head there. When I got there, it was Marcos about to finish off his hit with someone. Too bad I missed Rafa, was really looking forward to see him. At Grandstand, there was Canas and Nalbandian going at it, but I decided to take a break and head to food courts. Here comes my tip for US Open visitors. DO NOT BUY ALL BEEF FRANKFURTER. That thing is nasty. After grabbing another cup of Heineken, I went to see what going on in qualies. Scoville Jenkins was playing Qureshi but I only saw a few games toward first set tiebreak which he lost (it was very close). Back to the practice courts I saw Rochus was still there (he never leaves tennis courts), this time hitting with Andy Murray. Well, Gilbert wasn't too happy as Murray looked a little hopeless there. During changeovers Gilbert picked up the Murray's racquet and was getting schooled by Rochus. After about 10 minutes, Gilbert hit his first and only winner and Olie started laughing hysterically. Brad was laughing too. Perhaps because Murray couldn't hit one..

Back to Armstrong and Grandstand. On Luis I saw Ferrero and Youzhny, followed by Gonzo (he also stayed for his next practice set with Roddick) - Murray. On Grandstand Ljube was getting blown off court by Berdych. Juan Carlos looked pretty good as did Berdych. Misha was little off I thought.

Roddick - Gonzo on Armstrong was next. It was fun to watch these two. Andy actually played very well, different fromm his matches as he was attacking second serves of Gonzo with backhand and was coming in behind them. He only served at about 3/4 his usual pace but well placed, no aces but easy knock out volleys and short forehands. I think if he actually plays his matches same way, he would have more success. He was also having fun with crowds and they loved it. Stayed there for about 15-20 min, went to Grandstand to see Gasquet - Grosjean. They only ended up playing 4 games (Richard won those easily) and then Sebs quit. I wish I could see some more but that didn't happen. During rest I asked Richard how was his hand that he had blister on, he said it's getting better. Well, I hope so.

Last session was Federer - Henman on Luis Armstrong. By that time I was already half cooked in the sun, half falling asleep from being tired after running around the place. All box seats were taken when I got there, so i had to watch from normal seats and all I remember was a few nice passing shots by Roger and couple mishits that went up about 300 feet in the air. He has some of the most incredible mishits. In the end, it was little too much for me as it was already 5:40pm and it would be about 8 by the time I get back home, so I decided to call it a day.

I like to attend these practice even more than during a normal day watching tennis matches. You have less people, you see more players and there are no lines to the restrooms.

You can see all picture I took yesterday here. (Under US Open folder on the left)


Craig Hickman said...


Thanks for these pictures and this entry. I wasn't able to get to the USO this year, so I appreciate an insider report!